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Journal Article

Bacterial formation of phosphatic laminites off Peru


Brunner,  B.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Arning, E. T., Birgel, D., Brunner, B., & Peckmann, J. (2009). Bacterial formation of phosphatic laminites off Peru. Geobiology, 7(3), 295-307.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CC06-3
Authigenic phosphatic laminites enclosed in phosphorite crusts from the shelf off Peru (10°01′ S and 10°24′ S) consist of carbonate fluorapatite layers, which contain abundant sulfide minerals including pyrite (FeS2) and sphalerite (ZnS). Low δ34Spyrite values (average −28.8‰) agree with bacterial sulfate reduction and subsequent pyrite formation. Stable sulfur isotopic compositions of sulfate bound in carbonate fluorapatite are lower than that of sulfate from ambient sea water, suggesting bacterial reoxidation of sulfide by sulfide‐oxidizing bacteria. The release of phosphorus and subsequent formation of the autochthonous phosphatic laminites are apparently caused by the activity of sulfate‐reducing bacteria and associated sulfide‐oxidizing bacteria. Following an extraction–phosphorite dissolution–extraction procedure, molecular fossils of sulfate‐reducing bacteria (mono‐O‐alkyl glycerol ethers, di‐O‐alkyl glycerol ethers, as well as the short‐chain branched fatty acids i/ai‐C15:0, i/ai‐C17:0 and 10MeC16:0) are found to be among the most abundant compounds. The fact that these molecular fossils of sulfate‐reducing bacteria are distinctly more abundant after dissolution of the phosphatic laminite reveals that the lipids are tightly bound to the mineral lattice of carbonate fluorapatite. Moreover, compared with the autochthonous laminite, molecular fossils of sulfate‐reducing bacteria are: (1) significantly less abundant and (2) not as tightly bound to the mineral lattice in the other, allochthonous facies of the Peruvian crusts consisting of phosphatic coated grains. These observations confirm the importance of sulfate‐reducing bacteria in the formation of the phosphatic laminite. Model calculations highlight that organic matter degradation by sulfate‐reducing bacteria has the potential to liberate sufficient phosphorus for phosphogenesis.